It took my boyfriend David and I a full year after we decided to move in together to actually move in together. That's what happens when you combine an admittedly overly picky couple with the Bay Area's crazy rental market. It took us that entire time to find an apartment that was in our desired neighborhood, in our price range, and with ample afternoon sunlight (a nonnegotiable, obviously). Looking back, I'm grateful for that extended period — it helped to solidify the fact that this was something we very carefully considered and actively wanted, not something we were blindly jumping into. Those 12 months also gave us time to create a plan, save up, and gather advice and wisdom from other couples who were already living together.
Now that we've been under the same roof for nearly a year, I can safely say that all those perks my friends told me about are true. But there are some things I felt wildly unprepared for that aren't often brought up in conversations about cohabiting. In an effort to save you from a few surprises along the way, here are five things I wish someone had told me before I made the move.
1. No matter how much money you've saved, you're going to spend way more than you think
Between planning to buy almost all of our furniture new and bracing ourselves for the added expense of things like renter's insurance, we knew moving in together would be costly. As soon as we made the decision to live together, we not only started save up, but we also each set an ideal amount for an apartment fund (for things outside of rent) and agreed not to sign a lease until we both achieved our respective goals.
But even with my sizable fund to dip into, I still wasn't quite prepared for just how quickly I would blow through it all. As expected, the furniture alone took out a huge chunk of money. But then there were things I hadn't even taken into account: buckets of paint, a home security system, upgrading the thermostat, replacing the curtain rods, additional storage. They seemed minor (at least compared to a sofa, dining table, or mattress), but they added up, and I'm still recovering financially 10 months later. Suffice it to say, it's always smart to have money set aside — but save more than you think you need.
2. Sometimes, there isn't enough room for both of your emotions
Even though David and I were together for over three years before cohabiting and had plenty of normal couple fights, nothing prepared us for the fact that arguments take on a whole new dimension when you live under one roof. It's frustrating when you're both fuming in the same physical space — you become acutely aware of both your actions and your partner's and no amount of door slamming or exasperated groaning will ease you. And even if he's in the garage and you're in the bedroom, the house suddenly feels too small. We've learned that in these situations, it's best for one or both of us to leave so we can deal with our anger independently without the other's influence.
3. You need to actively seek quality time with one another
You'd think that moving in together would mean quality time all the time — I certainly did. But I quickly discovered that wasn't the case. We were spending a lot of time hanging out next to each other, and not with each other. Sitting side-by-side on the couch on our laptops doesn't count as engaging, meaningful relationship time. Now, we make sure to seek "us" time beyond simply watching a TV show together after dinner. We'll try a new restaurant, take a walk, or enforce a strict "no technology in the bedroom" rule once in awhile.
4. The action of one now reflects both of you
As much as you may not like it, once you live together, you're relegated to being viewed as a single unit as opposed to two individuals — at least to people who don't know you very well. While it seems benign at first, it's important to recognize that this now means how one of you acts or reacts speaks for the both of you. As a result, it may be a good idea to agree up front about the kind of couple you want to be. For instance, we decided we don't want to be the aggressive, revenge-seeking neighbors, but we do want to be the local coffee shop patrons who always tip generously.
5. Words can't describe how amazing it is
No one can really tell you what it's like to live with someone you love — it's one of those things you just have to experience for yourself. It's totally mundane while also being really fun. It's exhausting one day and it's effortless the next. But one thing I can tell you is that even after all the surprises and bumps in the road, at the end of the day, getting to fall asleep and wake up next to my best friend is the best feeling in the world.
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